It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, time management is a crucial skill that has a significant impact on not only your productivity, but the way your days and weeks shape in as a whole. Being a great time manager can help you be a better employee, colleague, parent, and spouse.
Here’s some of my favorite tips for better time management, which will lead to less stress and higher productivity.
Use a Meeting Setting Tool
You may not realize how much of your time is taken from the back and forth of setting up meetings and calls. Fortunately, there are several tools out there that can help you not only immediately let your contact know when you’re free, but allows them to set up a meeting with you immediately, which is synced with your calendar.
One option is YouCanBook.Me, which is what I use:
ScheduleOnce is also another good one I’ve seen other people use. There are many other options, but make sure the one you chose syncs with your calendar and makes the appointment setting process as easy as possible.
Only Work on Crucial Projects
There’s a saying that says something along the lines of, “work expands to fill the time allotted.” This is the theory that people will subconsciously create more work for themselves the more time they have.
In order to avoid this, go through your to-do list for the week and ask yourself which tasks are crucial. In this case, “crucial” can be defined as: you’d be fired or not paid for getting them done. If you use that as a guideline, you’d be amazed at how many tasks just seem to fall away.
Once you clear your crucial tasks, you will find yourself with a few hours per day for those less important tasks. These can be tackled with more energy, because you’ll be relieved and energized from getting the big projects out of the way first.
Try “Swallowing Your Frogs” Every AM
This ties in neatly with the idea of only working on crucial projects. In a book I’ve recommended before, Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy, the idea is that every morning, do the task you are dreading the most first. Then it’s out of the way and you can move onto working on things you’re enjoy doing.
The term comes from the idea that if had to you eat a frog every morning, the rest of the stuff you need to do that day doesn’t seem so bad.
Only Check Email Once or Twice Per Day
As marketers, we are obsessed with the digital high we get from new email or social media notifications. This means we often leave our email and social media profiles open all day, checking them multiple times per hour. This disrupts our train of thought, leading to even more time lost while we get back on track.
Only checking your email once or twice per day can lead to less time lost due to getting back on track. Set expectations by making sure your colleagues know that you may not respond until your “email periods.” For instance, I have a line in my email signature that lets recipients know I may not respond to incoming email for 24 hours.
While many people may cast off this idea because they think email is too crucial to their work, if you look at email with the same lens that you used to identify “critical” projects, you’d see than many items can wait until the afternoon or morning. Additionally, set expectations by letting colleagues and clients know they can always call or text you with work “emergencies” (you’d be amazed at how little calls most of us will receive).
Work When You Are Productive
Life is too short to try to make yourself a morning person when you aren’t. If you do your best work after 10pm, then shift your schedule around to work during that time. As long as your work speaks for itself, most bosses and clients will come around to the fact that they may get projects from you late into the evening or early in the morning, if you enjoy waking up before the sun does.
Most people think that productivity means being able to do multiple things at once to get the most done in the shortest amount of time possible. However, studies have shown that multi-tasking can actually hurt your productivity because it requires your brain to constantly switch between different mindsets (which goes back to the idea of only checking email sporadically).
Just work on one project at a time, cross it off your list, and then move onto the next. You’ll be surprised at how much you can get done when working in an order, as opposed to several things at a time.
Shape Your Day in Advance
Creating a daily to-do list is one of the habits of the rich—81 percent of them do it, versus 19 percent of the poor. This suggests there’s a link between outlining your goals for each day and financial success. Planning ahead can help you stay focused and less worried about making sure something doesn’t fall through the cracks.
You can use good old-fashioned paper and pen, but online tools like ToDoist, Trello, and Remember the Milk are also great to-do list tools as well.
Designate One or Two Days For Meetings
For many of us, meetings take up much more time than the actual minutes spent in the room. Just like email and multitasking, going to a meeting requires our brain to switch to a different mindset, which can be distracting if you’re trying to work on something else before or after.
This is why it might be help to have all your weekly meetings on one or two set days, instead of sprinkled throughout each work day. Having blocks of times for meetings ensures that your other non-meeting days have fewer distractions, and you can prepare for meetings all at once, instead of stopping and starting throughout the entire week to get ready.
While a day or two of meetings isn’t really the dream of most professionals, it makes the rest of the days much more pleasant, because there’s more solid blocks of time to work on projects that require the most attention.
One of the best time management tips anyone can receive is that simply being aware of how you spend your time can be enlightening enough to make changes. In 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, author Laura Vanderkam explains that doing a time log of all your hours (168) in a single week can show you where you can make your process or activities more streamlined.
By seeing what you’re already doing, you have a better idea of what needs to be removed or changed to make your life less stressful and more productive. This awareness can help you implement the above tips in order to make your B2B marketing as efficient and effective as possible.
Featured image via Unsplash. Screenshot taken August 2015.